La Marche Infanterie
Origin and History
The regiment was created on September 15, 1684 and wore the name of the Province of La Marche. Indeed, expecting a coalition to soon form against France, Louis XIV had raised 30 new regiments from September 1 to 30 for the defence of the various places of the realm. By raising one regiment a day, he avoided any problem of precedence among these new regiments. The regiment was given to Armand-Charles de Gontaut, Baron de Biron.
In 1688, the regiment took part in the conquest of Palatinate.
In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment joined the Army of the Flanders and fought in the Combat of Walcourt. In 1690, it formed part of the expeditionary force sent to Ireland and fought in the Battle of the Boyne. In 1691, it was transferred to the Army of the Alps and took part in the siege of Nice and in the defence of Suza. In 1692, it was sent back to Flanders where it participated in the siege of Namur and in the Battle of Steenkerque. In 1693, it took part in the Battle of Landen and in the siege of Charleroi; in 1695, in the bombardment of Bruxelles; and in 1697, in the siege of Ath.
In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was allocated to the Army of Germany. In 1703, it took part in the sieges of Alt-Breisach and Landau, and in the Combat of Speyerbach. In 1704, it was transferred to the Army of the Alps and took part in the defence of Chambéry and in the siege of Suza; in 1705, in the conquest of the County of Nice; in 1706, in the siege and Battle of Turin; and in 1707, in the defence of Toulon. From 1708 to 1710, the regiment served with the Army of Dauphiné. In 1711, it was transferred to the Army of Catalonia and took part in the siege of Girona; in 1713, in the relief of Girona; and in 1714, in the siege of Barcelona.
In 1734, during the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment took part in the relief of Danzig and was made prisoner by the Russian Army. It was freed in 1735.
In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment served in Bavaria and on the Lower Rhine. On June 27, 1744, it took part in the Battle of Dettingen. In 1744, it was transferred to the Army of Flanders and took part in the capture of Menin, Ypres and Furnes before going to Alsace where it took part in the combat of Augenheim and in the siege of Freiburg. In 1745, it served with the Army of the Lower Rhine and in 1746, with the Army of the Meuse, taking part in the capture of Mons, Charleroi and Namur and in the Battle of Rocoux. In 1747, it fought in the Battle of Lauffeld, In 1748, it was present at the siege of Maastricht.
On the eve of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted only one battalion.
N.B.: this regiment must not be confused with Comte de La Marche Infanterie also known as La Marche-Prince (from 1761).
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 84th and was under the command of:
- from March 3, 1747: Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, Marquis de Rochambeau
- from March 31, 1759: Jacques-François, Chevalier de Chastellux
- from November 5, 1761 to November 25, 1762: Anne-Louis du Quigo, Marquis de Crenolle
When the French army was reorganised at the end of 1762, the regiment was disbanded on November 25.
Service during the War
In 1756, the regiment took part in the amphibious expedition against Minorca and in the siege and capture of the British fortress of St-Philip of Mahon.
By August 1, 1757, the regiment had been transferred to Germany. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in the first line of the French army at Langingen on the Aller River.
In February 1758, when Ferdinand of Brunswick launched his winter offensive in Western Germany, the regiment retired on the Rhine with the rest of the French army. From March 30 to April 4, it was in the first line of Clermont's Army in the camp of Wesel on the Lower Rhine. In April, when Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was placed in the second line at Tits. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by Ferdinand's Army on May 31, the regiment retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's Army on June 2. It remained in this camp until June 12 and was placed in the centre of the second line. On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it was placed on the left wing of the second line under Saint-Germain. This corps tried to stop the Allied outflanking manoeuvre and bore the brunt of the fighting, preventing for almost 3 hours the crossing of the ditch and repulsing three successive Allied attacks. After sustaining heavy casualties, it finally retired from the wood. On June 28, the regiment was part of a small detachment, under the command of M. de Boccard, occupying Roermond. Boccard surrendered the town to the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, obtaining the honours of war and retiring to Liège. In Mid August, after Ferdinand's retreat to the east bank of the Rhine, the regiment, as part of the Army of the Lower Rhine, now under Contades, recrossed the Rhine to follow the Allied army. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it was placed in the centre of the second line.
In June 1759, during the French offensive in Western Germany, the regiment was part of the main army, under the command of the Marquis de Contades and was deployed in the first line, on the right wing of the infantry centre. On August 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the first line of the infantry right wing under the command of the Chevalier de Nicolaï.
By the end of January 1760, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in the first line of the French Army. By mid March, the regiment was billeted in Neuwied, in the first line of the French army. By May 23, the regiment was part of the first line of the infantry centre of Broglie's Army. On October 16, the regiment arrived in Düsseldorf to reinforce Castries' Corps. It later returned to France.
From 1761 to 1762, the regiment was stationed in France to defend the coasts against British incursions.
On November 25, 1762, the regiment was disbanded.
The following description has been verified against Taccoli's book published in 1760.
|Coat||grey-white lined grey-white with copper buttons down to the waist on the right side
|Waistcoat||red with small copper buttons; horizontal pockets, each with 5 small copper buttons|
Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre.
Colonel Colour: white field with a white cross.
Ordonnance Colour: white cross; each canton consisted of yellow, blue, red and feuille-morte (reddish brown) crossed bands. These colours remained unchanged from 1684 to 1762.
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Susane, Louis: Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française, J. Corréard, Paris, 1849-1856, Tome 8, pp. 229-230
Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website which has unfortunately disappeared from the web)
Mouillard, Lucien: Les Régiments sous Louis XV, Paris: 1882
Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891
Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006
Service Historique de l'armée de terre - Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757,
Taccoli, Alfonso: Teatro Militare dell' Europa, Part 1, vol. 2; Madrid, March 1760
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.